Mark of the Shadow Part 24: The Next Morning
I awoke next morning to the sweet smell of grass, and the light touch of dew on my finger tips. The sun was low but bright, and I heard a bird singing as I rose.
Rolph was up already. I made my way back to the house and breathed in deeply. Rolph was inside staring at the golden orb. It was sitting neatly next to its counterpart on top of Cezary’s dresser. Cezary had a pot of tea set out and was cooking a batch of greens for breakfast. It’s what he had.
“Hello Father,” I said greeting Rolph. He turned with a look of shock, but there was a slight smile in his eyes. I smiled back and took a seat in Cezary’s creaky old chair.
Cezary walked out with two steaming plates and said, “did you change your mind? I thought you said he wasn’t your father.”
“Never said that,” I said lifting a forkfull of food to my mouth.
“Anne…Tell me what happened again, when you held the golden orb,” said Rolph.
My stomach grew cold as I thought about it. The death, the sound, come to think of it the lack of sound is what got me. I felt like something was missing though. I couldn’t even think of what it could be, just somethin wasn’t feeling right.
“Well, like I told you I was in a battle. Some people died. I don’t really wana talk much about it. I ended up getting shot and then I was back here.”
Rolph had stopped eating. “Who, who died Anne? Think very hard.”
“I don’t know I didn’t even learn some of their names. Don’tcha think it’s better that way?”
“Anne,” said Rolph standing his tone stern, “what did you do last night?”
I was scared, “What, I just, I just went to bed, I couldn’t sleep for a while so I layed awake but…but I swear I didn’t do nothin.” What could I have done?
Rolph just got up and ran his hand through his hair. I stopped eating too. Cezary came out with his plate and looked at the scene in bewilderment.
Then Rolph left. I watched him go straight outside. He was back a minute later with his bag. He dumped the contents onto the floor, small bags and boxes tumbling. He dug through the pile looking for a few specific things.
He raised a satchel of leaves, Eucalyptus. “Some of it’s missing,” he said. His face was red with rage, I’d never seen him this angry. “Do you realize what you’ve done?”
“Daddy,” I began but I couldn’t finish.
“No, you listen here. You have a father. A father you love very much, but he isn’t me.”
“You’re scarring me, don’t say that,” I said. The day had started out so nice. Now my father was telling me, telling me my whole life was wrong.
“Perhaps you should slow down,” said Cezary.
“No!” he yelled at Cezary. “You are not a part of this!” He took a breath. “I’m sorry Cezary, you are not a part of this. Anne, your father…your real father is dead.”
I was shaking my head and covering my ears. It wasn’t true, none of it. None of it. Rolphs hands came down and pushed my hands off my red hot ears.
“You, you couldn’t stand it. I told you to not do anything rash, but I should have known better. I should have known better than to teach you herbs.” Rolph grabbed my face and held it still. “Listen, you made a mistake. Your memories are still in there. I just need you to reach for them. Look for your father, look for those memories.”
“But I don’t want to remember!” I shouted. “I want things to just be good and happy like they were!”
“No, you listen. You may not want to be my father anymore, and, and so then don’t! Just leave, Cezary will take care of me. I don’t need you. You trying to tell me something that ain’t true.” I was breathing hard. My mouth ached, and I had to stop.
Cezary came to me, kneeled next to me. “You need to listen to Rolph honney. He’s right, I’ve listened to the way you talked about your father. Rolph isn’t that man, I’m not that man, but he’s in there,” Cezary pointed to my chest. “He’s in there, and he always will be.”
“These things take time,” said Rolph.
I looked up at them. They seemed sincere enough. There eyes looked it, but it couldn’t be true. I wouldn’t let it be.
“If I loved him so much, then why did I make myself forget him?” I asked as much to myself as them.
It was Cezary who answered. “The more you love someone the harder it is to lose them. Remember what I told you of my sister. At least you have not harmed anyone.”
I did remember his story. I could tell even then that it had pained him to remember. “Are you glad that you remember her?”
He was slow to answer. “The story I recounted to you was painful. But the pain and sorrow was only a small time of my life. I loved my sister for over twenty years. I would not, could not give that up if I was made to. That is why I believe Rolph when he says that indeed you do remember your father you just have to search for it. The kind of love that we feel, it doesn’t disapear. Not overnight.”
This was all too much. My brain was turning so hard I was afraid it would overheat. Both these men were expecting so much of me so fast. I just picked up my fork and started eating. This would go away. It had to.
The forest was alive with gunfire. Shots echoed inbetween branches and the birds refused to sing. Rolph was loading Bessie up wth our packs.
“This isn’t just going to go away. No matter what happens when you leave this cabin. You must remember, you must remember who your father was, and what he meant to you.”
He picked me up and put me on the horse. It was strange, I had a memory of him doing that so many times over the years. I didn’t understand how that couldn’t have happened. Rolph handed me a knife.
“I know you never got to practice with your gun,” he said and he handed me the Adams revolver. “There are more bullets in the bags.”
“What about Cezary?”
“I’m going to help him get out of here. Your smart, I’ve tought you enough to let you go on your own.” He smiled, “against my better judgment. Go south to the Sevier River. First river you’ll come across. Meet us there.”
“How will I make it?” I asked realizing for the first time that I might have to use the skills he’d taught.
“Bessie has food supplies, I taught you some traps, use them. I have faith in you. Whatever you do, don’t trust anyone and don’t take off your necklace.”
With that Rolph slapped Bessies’ behind and we were off.